It wouldn’t be Friday without a juicy Apple leak or rumor, and, as if on cue, photos of the display and lid of the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air supposedly leaked today. In other news, Tim Cook reportedly agreed to let Chinese officials check Apple products for security flaws, and iPhones accounted for precisely half of all phone activations in the U.S. during the last quarter.
Just in time for weekend speculation fun, a set of photos have popped up on iFanr purporting to show the lid and display for the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air. The photos are noticeably less fuzzy than the usual leaked fare, and they helpfully show the parts stacked alongside a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 9.7-inch iPad for comparison.
There’s some doubt about the authenticity of the photos, however, in that they show that the traditional backlit Apple logo for MacBooks has been traded out for the polished metal logo common to iPads. For its part, iFanr believes Apple might have chucked the widely beloved backlit Apple in favor of making the unit ever so slightly thinner.
Also missing are the gray bezels common to most new MacBook Air models, which means that Apple might be extending the glass to the edges of the unit as seen with the MacBook Pro. That sounds lovely, but it does clash with an earlier rumor that the device would have the familiar gray bezels. Of course, there’s always a good chance that Apple simply changed its mind.
China’s massive market means a lot to Apple—so much, in fact, that Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly agreed to let the country’s officials inspect its products for security flaws, according to The Beijing News (via MacRumors). The officials are supposedly interested in finding “back doors” that would grant the Cupertino company (or anyone else, for that matter) access to private data stored in the units.
Calligraphy exhibit for the upcoming Apple Store in Hangzhou, China.
Lu Wei, director of China’s State Internet Information Office, had expressed concerns last year that Apple might be afforded a window into Chinese state secrets through its devices. Cook assured Wei that this was not the case in a well-publicized visit, but the official apparently wanted to check out the products for himself.
The danger of such a decision is that it might reveal some secrets about how Apple designs its own software, which could in turn lead to leaked knowledge regarding how to exploit the vulnerabilities. But if it means staying in China’s billion-strong market, that’s a chance that Cook’s apparently willing to take.
Just in case you needed any more proof that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are wildly popular, consider the latest report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partner, which states that Apple accounted for half of all phone activations in the United States for Q4 2014 (via AppleInsider).
“Apple had virtually double the sales of Samsung, and five times that of LG. No other brand accounted for as much as 5% of US sales,” says Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP.
Keep in mind that, at 500, the data sampling is quite small for reaching such sweeping conclusions, and that 86 percent of activations came from consumers who’d upgraded from an earlier iPhone. Still, Apple has certainly accomplished a major feat here, and impressively enough, CIRP reports that 25 percent of new iPhone users were former Samsung users and that 15 percent came from LG phones.
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A new patent suggests that Apple’s tinkering with the idea of turning the iPhone’s home button into a joystick for gaming, but is it practical or just a cool idea? In other news, a well-known iPhone case maker shoots an iPhone 6 into the stratosphere for a demo video and a modern game developer prepares to re-release the MacVenture games from the 1980s.
It’s been an interesting week for Apple patents, and now there’s more fuel on the speculation fire thanks to a newly published patent discovered by Patently Apple that describes an iPhone home button that can be popped out of the frame to serve as a joystick for games.
When it’s compressed within the phone, the home button would likely handle Touch ID and all its standard functions, but when a user presses it in, it’ll pop up to serve as a slightly more traditional joystick. Turned on its side, the phone would then be able to function as a portable gaming device a bit more like the Nintendo 3DS or the Sony PlayStation Vita.
It’s a cool idea, but there certainly seems to be a chance that the button’s springs would wear down with continued use, and accidentally bumping it when it’s out could effectively ruin the entire phone on account of the numerous responsibilities of the home button. The patent, submitted by Apple in 2013, was designed by Colin Ely and Fletcher Rothkopf.
On the Mac gaming side of things (and the Apple-history side of things for that matter), developer Zojoi announced today that it’s re-releasing the entire MacVenture series of games, originally published by Mindscape circa 1985-1988, on Mac and PC later this month. The series includes Shadowgate, Deja Vu, Deja Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas, and Uninvited, which all rely on a similar point-and-click style of adventuring.
For its part, Zojoi was responsible for the Kickstarter-funded remake of Shadowgate that was released last August, and it plans to allow players to buy the games either individually or in a complete pack.
“Fans of the new re-imagined Shadowgate have been clamoring for more story-based adventures in the style and themes of the original MacVenture games,” said Zojoi founder Dave Marsh in a press release. “So while we were developing our new projects, we did a face palm. Why not make these memorable classics available to them now and take a look into other platforms as well? It was a blast to see how awesome the titles have held up!”
Even better, in a welcome nod to Mac lovers, Zojoi will allows players to play with either the original Macintosh 128k black-and-white graphics or with the 4-bit color graphics created for the Apple IIGS. The games will be available on Steam “and other digital distributors” before the month is out.
You might say the bar for an iPhone case demo video has been lifted into the stratosphere. As MacRumors noticed today, case maker Urban Armor Gear released a video earlier this month showing how they shot an iPhone 6 surrounded by their latest composite case up 101,000 feet (or around 19 miles) into the atmosphere to demonstrate how tough their cases are.
UAG accomplished the stunt by attaching the case to a weather balloon equipped with two GoPro cameras. Way up there, the phone was subjected to 70-mile-per-hour winds and temps that got as low as -79 degrees Fahrenheit. Eventually the balloon burst, and the whole apparatus came tumbling back to earth while enduring around 140 rotations per minute.
The remains of the balloon itself seems to have offered some resistance as the device fell back down, and in the end it landed rather softly in a muddy English field. But now, as UAG co-founder Steve Armstrong says, “Our cases already meet military drop-test standards, but now we can officially say that they are space tested as well.”
As for the iPhone itself, it powered off in the stratosphere because it couldn’t handle the extreme cold, but it switched back on with no problems once it finally dropped back to earth. Not a bad showing for Apple, either, then.
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If you’re still worried about how the Apple Watch will function once it’s actually on your wrist but you want to be a day-one buyer, never fear: the development team who made the iOS app Pipes has made an online demo that shows how it works in practice. Elsewhere, adoption of iOS 8 continues to climb across all compatible devices, and the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is pushing up Apple’s smartphone market share almost everywhere.
We’re still a couple of months off from the official release of the Apple Watch according to the latest crop of rumors, but in the meantime, the team behind the iOS news app Pipes has produced a workable online version of the device’s interface. It’s a nifty way to try before you buy if you’re aiming for a launch-day purchase.
On a laptop screen, the interface roughly mirrors what you’ll see when you strap it on your wrist, although you’ll have to use your mouse to hit the Digital Crown on the device’s right side. Clicking on an app on the main screen opens it, although most only feature a static image representing what the app will look like.
The biggest exception to this tendency is the Pipes Apple Watch app, which apparently performs precisely like the one Apple Watch owners may use once the device launches. Elsewhere, you can click on the Music app to hear Coldplay singing “A Sky Full of Stars” or swipe through the Instagram app to see a few photos.
And if you’re a developer? You can upload your own app’s icon to get an idea of how it’ll look on Apple’s long-awaited smartwatch.
Its life started out a little bumpy, what with the bugs and all, but iOS 8 is now running on 68 percent of all compatible iOS devices, according to Apple’s Developer Support page. That’s up four percentage points from Apple’s December 23 update, which suggests Apple’s numbers for holiday sales on January 27 will be quite impressive indeed.
Apple’s chart shows that iOS 7 is now running on just 29 percent of compatible iOS devices compared to the 33 percent it commanded back in December, as MacRumors notes. Older iOS releases now occupy a mere 4 percent of iOS devices.
The Cupertino company is currently in the process of preparing iOS 8.2 for release, and it released the third beta for the update to developers back on December 18.
In related news, Apple’s success with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has pushed its smartphone market share to new heights worldwide, according to a new report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. According to their data, Apple made gains in year-over-year sales in every country surveyed with the exception of Japan.
Kantar Worldpanel’s report focused on the period between September and November 2014, and in addition to the gains made by Apple, it showed that Google’s Android operating system lost ground in many markets, including the U.S. Among the most significant gains by Apple was in the United Kingdom, where Apple’s market share shot up 12.2 percentage points from the same months in 2013 to command 42.5 percent of sales.
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A new year is here, but you’ll have to wait a little while longer if you want to learn just how much Apple raked in while shoppers were filling their stockings with iPhones and MacBooks — January 27, to be exact. For now, though, we’ve got some good news about SIM-free iPhones and Apple’s HomeKit in our first Apple Daily news roundup for 2015.
If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you already have access to a unlocked, SIM-free iPhone. Lucky you! But for the rest of us, Apple will start selling unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units directly from its physical and online retail stores starting tomorrow, according to 9to5Mac.
That’s especially good news for frequent travelers, as the unlocked, SIM-free phones allow you to switch out cards as needed anywhere in the world without having to worry about the occasionally hefty fees associated with sticking with one carrier.
According to MacRumors, however, Apple’s been selling these unlocked phones for months now as long as the consumer buys the device at its full retail price, although the Cupertino company hasn’t been marketing it as such.
And that remains the catch. You’ll have to buy the iPhones at full price, which means you’ll end up paying 9/9/9 for the 16/64/128 GB versions of the iPhone 6, or 9/9/9 for the 16/64/128 GB of the iPhone 6 Plus. In the right circumstances, though, it’s certainly worth it.
Apple’s HomeKit service for iOS isn’t quite the Jetsons-style automation service that many commentators imagined it would be, but it’s nifty nonetheless. Visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 today got a glimpse into what awaits us in the future with the service with iDevices’ new “Switch” plug, which lets users controls many lights and appliances throughout their homes with Siri.
iDevices calls Switch the “the world’s first HomeKit-enabled plug,” and it works by plugging an object such as a bedside lamp into the Switch and then controlling the object through Siri on an iPhone. The Siri voice controls thus allow Switch users to bypass the extra cumbersome step of opening a dedicated app to use it. If everything’s set up properly, you can tell Siri to “turn off the lights in the bedroom” and off they’ll go.
Switch is small, too: iDevices demonstrated today that it only takes up one socket on a traditional American wall panel. You can access it through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and it doesn’t need to work through a central hub. Pricing isn’t available yet, but you can sign up for more information over at the official site for Switch (at the bottom).
Apple’s next quarterly earning report should be full of big numbers and good news for investors, and the Cupertino company announced today that it will livestream audio from the conference call to the public on Tuesday, January 27 at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. EST.
During the Q1 earnings call last year, Apple reported that it had earned revenues of billion based on the sales of 39 million iPhones, 12.3 million iPads, and 5.5 million Macs. Considering the massive popularity of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus over the last couple of months, the company is easily poised to beat those most of those figures for the upcoming report.
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Our Friday Morning Report has some very good news for iPhone 6 shoppers in need of a last-minute holiday gift, as shipping estimates for all but the 128GB models finally improve to a single business day. We’re also spreading joy for fans of the Flowboard presentation software, and cord-cutters with an Apple TV can now watch full episodes of ABC shows without a cable subscription. Wrap up the work week on a high note by clicking ahead!
If you’re in the market for an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, the Apple Online Store may very well look like Santa Claus right now — assuming you want 16GB or 64GB, that is. According to MacRumors, shipment times for all carriers and colors have improved to just a single business day in the U.S. online store, with the larger capacity 128GB model the only one still languishing behind with a three-to-five day shipping estimate.
Americans aren’t the only ones to enjoy the shorter wait times, with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines, and other countries also showing a big improvement over estimates from earlier this month. Sadly, that won’t help your decision as to which model to buy, but it will get your choice in your hands that much sooner.
The folks at Flowboard announced a complete rebranding Thursday, with the company’s flagship presentation software now known as FlowVella. The change has been coordinated alongside the launch of FlowVella for Mac at the discounted price of just .99 (down from .99), which adds new presenter notes with display, auto play/advance features, PowerPoint import, Retina Display support, and the ability to import PSD files as flattened images.
A free iPad edition of FlowVella also benefits from the rebranding, and both versions have the ability to upgrade to monthly or annual Premium subscriptions, which now accommodate larger file sizes, adds additional templates and a password protection option, and the ability to track presentation views; FlowVella Education for iPad is also available is also available as a paid option for teachers and students. Existing customers only need to download the rebranded apps and log in to get started.
Last but not least, FlowVella is introducing a new product called iPad App Builder, which allows presentations to be transformed into standalone iPad apps, complete with custom branding. FlowVella’s first customer for this new service is Seattle’s EMP Museum, which has used the product to launch two new exhibits.
ABC announced that Apple TV owners are being treated to the sam special benefit already enjoyed by iOS users: The ability to watch full episodes of the network’s television shows from the WATCH ABC channel without the need to sign in with a cable or satellite subscription.
Sure, it’s a baby step closer to the cord-cutting many of us dream of, and you’ll still need to link up with your provider in order to watch live TV streams, but chances are many readers will be unaffected by that requirement anyway, given that live video is only available in Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and San Francisco.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter